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Friday, April 26, 2013

First Harvest of the 2013!


The vegetable are starting to come in!  Yesterday, Te-Man and I picked the first radish of the year!  I am so blessed that I get to share this amazing time with my kids and teach them about gardening and how exciting it is to pick your dinner from your yard! :)

I had him help me pull it, wash it.....

He wasn't so sure at first....

But we sat down and I took a bite and then he said "Eat it?" and got after it. :)

He even went back for more - I bet he ate 2/3 of it.
Then yesterday afternoon we were up in my bedroom making my bed after I'd washed the sheets and he looked out the window and pointed to the garden and said, " it?".  :)  YAY!

I know I owe you all pictures of the garden - it just seems like I always have something to do instead and when I finally get around to it, it's too late in the day and the shadows make the lighting terrible.

Will try this afternoon!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Plant Based Potato Salad

What good is a burger if it doesn't share a plate with some beautiful potato salad?
I LOVE potato salad....I could eat it every day, and I'm not even kidding.

I almost feel like I don't have anything to say about this potato salad because the fact that potato salad exists at all is enough of a reason to try it.  

Wanna know a secret? I only eat potato salad with BBQ sauce.  I just think that eating potato salad without BBQ sauce is like.....Bert without Ernie - just unacceptable.  You should have seen the look on Super Mom's face the first time I put the BBQ sauce on my potato salad.  It was quite amusing, but then I used the BBQ sauce on the potato salad even when we weren't having BBQ'd food....and then Hit Girl started doing it....hahaha...let the corruption begin! :)

You don't have to eat it with BBQ sauce - but I bet if you try it, you'll like it. :)

If you're wandering what the delicious salad is in the above photo, stop by the recipe for Summer Salad and check it out! :)

Plant Based Potato Salad

What's In It:
4 medium potatoes
2/3 c relish or bread and butter pickles, diced
1/2 c onion, finely diced
1 stalk of celery, finely diced
1 c Plant Based Ranch Dressing
1 T dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste
BBQ SAUCE - optional

What To Do With It:
Boil potatoes until tender.  Cool slightly, peel if desired, and dice.

Combine potatoes with remaining ingredients and gently stir until combined.

Chill for at least 2 hours before serving - with BBQ sauce, of course ;)

Plant Based Ranch Dressing

I found this fantastic recipe over at My Whole Food Life.  She has some great stuff over there - you should stop by and check her out!

I did mix up the spices and herbs a bit to make it more like the ranch dressing I so much enjoyed pre-plant based, but boy was I skeptical about the pureed cashews....I mean really?  That's just weird, right?

Nope.  Not weird.  Tasty.

Tasty on fresh veggies, potato wedges, even in some potato salad! :)

Plant Based Ranch Dressing
What's In It:
1 c cashews
1/4 c almond milk
1 t garlic*
3 T parsley*
1/2 t onion powder*
1 t dill*
3 T white vinegar
salt to taste

What To Do With It:
Soak the cashews in water for at least 6 hours, then drain and rinse.

Place the cashews into a blender and add just enough water to blend properly.  I added maybe 1/3 c, then a smidge more.  Blend until smooth.

Add spices and vinegar, then salt to taste.

I made this dressing with the spice amounts listed above and I have also made it using my pre-made ranch powder that I keep in the cabinet.  If you'd rather use the pre-made powder, just start with a tablespoon and add to taste.  I did find that when I used my pre-made powder, I had to add a little salt to get the flavor right - but the cashews I used were unsalted, so be sure to try it first!

Ranch Powder Recipe
What's In It:
2 c parsley
1/2 c minced dried onion
1 T dill weed
1/4 c onion powder
1/4 c garlic salt
1/4 c garlic powder

What To Do With It:
Blend in coffee grinder. Store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Summer Salad

I got some free portabellas in a reclaimed produce box and what better way to eat them than as a burger!?  So to go with our mushroom burgers, I made some delicious potato salad and some of this fresh summer salad.

Wolverine LOVES this stuff.  Anytime I ask him what he wants to have, he says Lima Bean and Corn Salad. :)  I just figured that since I also make this with zucchini on occasion, calling it Lima Bean Salad just wouldn't do. :)

Summer Salad
What's In It*:
2 c corn (the sweeter the better)
1 c lima bean or diced zucchini**
1 c tomatoes, diced
2/3 c cilantro, chopped
1/2 lrg onion, thinly sliced
1 T dijon mustard
2 T basalmic or white vinegar
2 limes, juiced
1/2 t pepper
1 t garlic salt

What To Do With It:
Mix all ingredients together and allow to chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

*I did measure everything out when making this recipe the first time, but the recipe is really forgiving - so I really don't measure much anymore.  I grab a couple of handfuls of lima beans out of the bag in the freezer and a quart size bag of  corn, then grab a couple of tomatoes, and a large handful of cilantro.  This summer, when my peppers are going gang busters in the garden, you can bet your britches I'll be throwing in a pepper or two as well. :)
**If you are using canned Lima Beans, just rinse and go.  If you are using frozen or dry.  Be sure to cook them enough to soften them - you don't want to be biting into a hard lima!
If you're going with the zucchini, just dice it and use it raw.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Red (or White) Beans and Rice

I started making this dish during our 30 day Vegan Challenge in 2011.  It was amazing then and it still is! :)

We LOVE it with corn bread, though I haven't quite found a plant based corn bread recipe yet that I feel is worth trying.  So the search continues!  If you have one, send it my way....I'd love to try it! :)

It is a little spicy, so you can adjust your seasonings accordingly.  If you're wanting to cut back on the spice, I'd use less Tony Chachere's and more regular salt.

If you need a little meat with your beans, you can throw in a ham hock with the beans and it will be super tender and flavorful.  I'd pull apart the meat and mix it into the beans before serving.

The most recent time I made this, I didn't have any red beans in the house and our organic market didn't have any and our Sam's doesn't carry dry beans.  I am usually not the kind of person to make a trip to the store for a single item, especially when I have a perfectly fine substitute in my cabinet.  Hence, our White Beans and Rice for the photo.  Just use your imagination and they'll be red!  :)

Red Beans and Rice
What's In It:
1 lb dry beans, rinsed, soaked for at least 8 hours, and drained
1 T oil
1 lrg onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 c chopped celery
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T dried parsley
3 bay leaves
1/2 T black pepper
1 T smoked paprika
1-2 T salt (kosher or Tony Chachere's depending on your preference)
1/2 T thyme
1/2 T onion powder
1/2 T poultry seasoning
3-4 c stock
Sliced Green Onions for garnish

What To Do With It:
Saute veggies and garlic in oil over medium high heat for a few minutes - I usually do this until they start to sweat a bit.  

Add spices and beans and stir to combine. 

Add stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for at least 2 hours.

If you'd like your beans to be a little smashed, you can take a spatula and press them against the side of the pot while you stir.

Serve over rice.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Pumpkin Bread

I did not have high hopes for this bread.  I made some significant changes to the recipe and to be honest, I was planning on pitching it.  Boy was I wrong and relieved too....I used my second to last bag of NC Candy Roaster pumpkin to make this bread and I would have been so sad to have wasted it.

This stuff was delicious!  Wolverine scarfed down 2 pieces, Te-Man was running around the house holding his piece singing "dessert bread", Ze-Ra and I didn't really do anything of note, we were too busy stuffing our faces!  :)  The bread is a smidge dryer around the edges and really moist in the middle.  It isn't dry in a bad way, just enough to make you appreciate the extra moist inside.  ;)

I would say that if you aren't needing/wanting to make this recipe plant based, you could totally make it according to the original recipe, but I would still suggest adding the additional spices.

The orginal recipe calls for walnuts, but I don't like walnuts and usually substitute pecans....but I didn't have any pecans (I placed our monthly order on Monday and it hadn't arrived just yet).  So I was perusing my cabinet and it seemed that the least amount of work would be to take my homemade trail mix and pick out the whole almonds and banana chips - leaving sunflower seeds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, dried cherries, and dried cranberries.

When I make this again, I won't change a thing.  YUM!

Pumpkin Bread
What's In It:
2 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c oat flour
1 c brown sugar
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t cloves
1/2 t ginger
1 t salt
2 t baking soda
2 t cinnamon
2 c pureed pumpkin (I used homemade candy roaster pumpkin, but canned would also work)
1/2 c oil
1/2 c applesauce (I used homemade unsweetened)
2/3 c coconut milk
1 1/2 c nuts/seeds/dried fruit/coconut

What To Do With It:
Grease and flour 2 loaf pans
Mix dry ingredients.  Add wet ingredients and mix until combined.  Stir in nuts/dried fruit by hand.

Distribute evenly between 2 loaf pans.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and cover with aluminum foil for 10 minutes.

Remove foil, run a knife or spatula around the edges of the pan, and turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Strawberry Lime Cake

Oh My Goodness.  The first thing I want to say is - stop by Hun....What's For Dinner's page....she is awesome and has some amazing food on her page!

I made this way back in February.  Man that feels like a LONG time ago.  I can't believe I am just now sharing was phenomenal!  So delicious and moist and just YUM!

It disappeared so QUICKLY - Wiley Kat and her family were here and whatever survived the night, didn't make it through the rest of the weekend. ;)

Strawberry Lime Cake
What's In It:
1 c butter, softened
1 1/2 c sugar
3 eggs
3 T lime juice, divided
3 limes, zested
2 1/2 c AP flour, divided
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 1/3 c greek yogurt or sour cream*
1 T vanilla
1 1/2 c fresh strawberries, diced
1 c powdered sugar

What To Do With It:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10" bundt pan.

Sift together 2 1/4 c flour, baking soda, salt, and 1/2 the lime zest.  Set aside.

Cream together the sugar and the butter.  Add the eggs one at a time, then stir in 1 T lime juice and vanilla.

Add the yogurt and the flour mixture alternating between the two and mixing just until combined.

Toss the strawberries with the remaining 1/4 c flour.  Then gently mix into the batter.

Pour batter into the bundt pan and bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool 10 minutes in the pan and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Whisk together remaining lime juice, zest, and powdered sugar.  Drizzle over the cake.

*I didn't have any yogurt on hand, so I used the sour cream and it was amazing!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Sweet Potato Chili

WOW!  I've been making this chili for over a year and (I know I say this a lot) every time I make it, I think to myself.....why don't I make this more often?!  It is delicious!

It is chock full of vegetables and tastes fantastic!  If you want to add meat I could see chicken, beef, or venison working well, but give it a try as is might be surprised! :)

I whipped this up in less than 10 minutes on Saturday to take over to Wiley Kat's house for an impromptu chili dinner. :)  Not too shabby for 10 minutes! :)

Sweet Potato Chili
What's In It:
2 sweet potatoes, diced
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 c corn*
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, diced
2 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes
1 14.5 oz can kidney beans (or 1 1/2 c soaked beans)
2 T chili powder
1 T smoked paprika
1 t salt
1 1/2 c water
1/2 c orange juice**

What To Do With It:

Slow Cooker Version:
Throw everything into the slow cooker and mix well.
Cook on Low 6-8 hours or High 3-4

Stove Top Version:
Throw everything into a pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to strong simmer and allow to cook for 2 hours or until vegetable are tender.

*I use corn that I freeze myself, but I think any kind would work here.
**I've made this using orange juice or lime juice. Both are delicious!  If you don't have either, water could be used instead....but it just won't be the same.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cauliflower and Lentil Tacos

We LOVE tacos here at the Hive!  YUM!  I was a little sad that tacos might become a thing of the past, but I don't know what I was thinking.  There are so many delicious plant based taco options....I was just being silly!

These were so good they even won over my cauliflower hatin' Wolverine!   He actually congratulated me on coming up with a way to get him to eat cauliflower.  :)  Yay!

Also, this makes a ton!  We all had at least 3 tacos for dinner and there were left overs for at least 4 lunches!  I've also paired it with some Mexican Rice for a mean burrito. :)

Cauliflower and Lentil Tacos
What's In It:
1 c uncooked lentils*
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 c water

1 large head cauliflower
1 large onion, diced
1 chipotle pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic
2 T chili powder
1 t salt
1/2 t cumin
1 t smoked paprika

What To Do With It:
Rinse and drain the lentils.  Bring lentils, 3 cloves garlic, and water to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook 20 minutes or until water is absorbed and lentils are tender.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare cauliflower by removing leaves and center core.  The goal is to have the cauliflower in little crumbles.  This can be achieved with a food processor, a cheese grater, or just chopping.  If using a food processor, do so in batches and make sure you don't over process!  I usually just chop, less dishes.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and chipotle pepper and cook until the onions start to brown.  Add cauliflower and garlic.  Cook 3-4 minutes.

Pour lentils into a strainer to remove any excess water.  Add the seasonings and the lentils to the skillet.  Continue to cook until warmed through and combined.

Serve with whole wheat tortillas, salsa, pickled peppers, avocado, sprouts, lettuce, etc.  

*You can also make this recipe using left over lentils.  If you're using precooked lentils, you'll need 3 cups and you won't need the water to cook them in or the first 3 cloves of garlic. ;)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Plant Based Grape Nuts

We LOVE our cereal around here, but I don't want to buy a bunch of processed stuff from the store.  We really try hard to eat most of our food as close to it's original form as possible - but sometimes, you just need some cereal. :)

Here is the link to my first post of the recipe (it uses regular milk and AP flour).  

The plant based friendly version still tastes delicious!  The color is noticeably darker and I did find I needed more vanilla, but there hasn't been a single turned up nose or complaint around the Hive, so I'd say we have a winner. :)  

What's In It:
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
2 c oat flour
2 c almond milk (unsweetened) 
2 T lemon juice*
2/3 - 1 c brown sugar (to taste)
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
3 t vanilla

What To Do With It:
Preheat oven to 375 Degrees F.  Combine all ingredients until smooth.  Pour into a greased or lined cookie sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Cool a few minutes in the cookie sheet, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely, 4-5 hours. 

Once cool, crumble into small pieces.  I used to use my food processor for this, but I had to do it in so many batches that I finally decided it wasn't worth the hassle and just do it by hand now (bonus - less dishes to clean up!). 

Spread crumbles evenly onto 2 cookie sheets (I fold the "cake" in half and crumble each half directly onto the cookie sheet).  

Bake at 300 degrees F for 1 hour - stirring and rotating cookie sheets every 20 minutes.  Allow to cool completely (I just leave them out overnight) before placing into storage container.    

*I usually do 2 T of lemon juice in the bottom of my measuring cup and then add almond milk to fill the measuring cup to 2 cups.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

From Primal to Plant Based

Making the switch was really not that big of a deal.  We've done it before.  It was summer of 2011 and Wolverine had just had his annual physical for the DoD and his cholesterol numbers were higher than he was comfortable with...still "normal", just high.

We had just watched Forks over Knives (a great documentary even if you aren't remotely interested in changing your eating habits) and we decided we didn't have anything to lose so we gave the 30 day vegan challenge a try.

Wolverine's cholesterol dropped 30 points in 30 days.

WHOA!  That was amazing....but apparently not enough to keep us eating plant based...maybe it was the new baby....maybe it was laziness....maybe it was just familiarity....

Fast forward to February of 2012 and my blood work showed that my cholesterol was a little higher than I wanted as well.  Also, I had some trouble with my blood pressure during the last few months of my pregancy and was put on bed rest.  Everything worked out ok, but ever since then my blood pressure has been higher that I'd like.  Since then, my diastolic blood pressure has never been below 80 (It used to be 60).  Everything was still "normal" so I ccould just stick my head in the sand, right?

We went primal again back in February 2013 and it was great - but even with all of our free produce, do you know how easy it is to get sucked into the cheese/eggs/meat/greek yogurt/sour cream/etc trap?  That stuff is GOOD!!!

After a lot of research, book reading, soul searching, discussions, looking at family histories of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc. we decided that plant based was the way to go.   I can list a bunch of titles of documentaries or books if you'd like, but this post is already a novella, so message me if you'd like them.  :)  I will say that the extended interviews from Forks Over Knives are available on NetFlix and are worth every minute and can provide a very condensed summary of the information found in countless books.

We got rid of all our dairy products, and anything with dairy in it.  That was hard - I mean this girl, LOVES cheese!   But I didn't really have any issue with it and no pangs of loss.  The major question was what to do with the freezer full of meat?  There is a lot of money all nicely packaged and organized in that freezer.  We decided that we will be eating meat 1x per week until the meat in the freezer is gone and then we won't be buying any more.  In all honesty, my guess is that Sushi will be on the menu occasionally ;)

What are we eating?

No meat, eggs, or dairy (see above comment about meat).

No white flour.

No high fructose corn syrup or anything "from concentrate".

Minimal sugar/sweeteners.

Minimal soy (no soy milk or weird to-furkey, "meat" crumbles, etc).

No weird fake "vegan" foods (vegan mayonnaise, vegan margarine, etc)

As many whole plant foods as possible, including fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains (corn, quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat flour, steel cut oats, etc).  

No technically vegan, but full of processed chemical foods (I'm looking at you Oreo and your dirty friends).

Am I trying to convert you?


You are an educated consumer and you are able to make your own decisions.  I do not want anyone telling me what is best for my family, and I am in no way, ever, trying to say that what is best for my family is best for yours.

I am simply telling you about our journey through this amazing life.  A life with all of the little adventures and changes in direction that living life with an open mind and an ever evolving understanding of the world around us brings.  

What Does that Mean for the Challenge 2013? 

This Challenge was so fun....while it lasted.  I just can't justify making a bunch of recipes that my family isn't going to eat.  There are still quite a few recipes from the book that I can make and I will be making those throughout the year...and maybe even a few that I can tweak.

What is the point of this longest post on record?! 

This is a quote from Forks Over Knives that resonates in my ears every day:

Some people say that eating a plant-based diet is extreme. But millions of people this year will have their bodies cut open, and a vein from their leg sewed onto their heart….Some might also say that’s extreme.

Monday, April 15, 2013

WHOA! Where has the time gone?

Can you believe I haven't posted in just over a month?  That is crazy and wow I have missed you guys!

Things around here have been so hectic - keeping up with Te-Man, helping Wolverine maneuver through life in pain and with only one wing, and keeping tabs on Ze-Ra. :)  We've gone on a few incredibly fun outings, the Super Parents came to visit, and I also have my entire garden planted - ye haw!  I'll be posting pics this week for sure!

Also over the past 2 months - I have lost 10 pounds!  WHAT?!  I am so excited....if I'm being honest that's only about 1/3 of what I want to lose, but I'd be content with only losing 10 more. :)

Also, we are now embarking on our third week of eating a plant based diet.  This is probably an entire post all on it's own - but we really feel like it's the best choice and have been really happy and feel great!

Wolverine has not been medically cleared to drive yet, so I am his chauffeur - taking him to work and all of his appointments. :)  So I'd better run and get things together for today.  I'm trying to get a batch of grape nuts and a batch of tweaked graham crackers made this morning before we head to Ft. Jackson this afternoon.

I hope you all had a WONDERFUL weekend and are ready to start a great week! :)