Category Archives: Guest Blog

GUEST POST – Weelicious’ Carrot Ginger Sauce

I am super excited about today’s guest post by Catherine McCord of Weelicious…this marks her third guest post for Veggie Grettie (click HERE for her first and HERE for her second).  I can’t wait to make this recipe.  The carrots I have been buying at the Farmer’s Market right now are so sweet and flavorful, so I know this is going to be amazing.  Enjoy!!!

———-

When it comes to my kids, if they’re offered rice or pasta they pretty much could care less what its mixed with. But when I served this Carrot Ginger Sauce tossed with long strands of noodles they were dubious. What was this “orange pasta” sitting on their plates?

That initial skepticism changed almost immediately after their first bites. With sweetness from the carrots, salty flavor from the miso and nuttiness from the tahini, they were so hooked by the incredible taste, I think they’re going to start paying a lot more attention to what’s on their pasta and rice from now on!

Carrot Ginger Sauce (Makes 1 Cup)

1 Tbsp Canola Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, peeled and minced
1 Tbsp Ginger, peeled and minced
4 Medium Carrots, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp Miso
1 Tbsp Tahini
2 Tbsp Water

Accompaniments: Soba Noodles, Brown Rice, Pasta (conventional wheat or GFree)

1. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.
2. Add garlic and sauté until soft, about 30 seconds.
3. Add ginger and carrots.
4. Cover and cook until carrots are soft, about 15 minutes.
5. Transfer to a food processor and add the miso, tahini and water.
6. Puree until smooth.
7. Serve tossed with pasta, soba, udon noodles or rice.

* Stays fresh in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

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3 Comments

Filed under Guest Blog, Kid Friendly, Main Dish, Recipes, Sauce / Spread / Jam / Yogurt, Sides, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

GUEST BLOG – SPORK SISTERS Spicy Corn Fritters with Lemongrass

I am so excited that the Spork Sisters are guest posting today!  I met Heather and Jenny at the Natural Products Expo West and they were as sweet as could be, but what really won me over was the amazing food they were serving.  In a land of sample aplenty, their food stood out and was wonderfully flavorful.

If this is your first introduction to the Spork Sisters, take note.  The ladies just released their first cookbook (Spork-Fed) and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.  For some time now the ladies have been teaching cooking classes in LA to rave reviews.  For those of you who can’t get to LA, they now have online cooking classes.

I highly recommend checking out their site and learning more about the awesome duo (click HERE).

The following recipe is from their cookbook, Spork-Fed with a foreword by fellow fans and sisters, Emily and Zooey Deschanel.

Spicy Corn Fritters with Lemongrass (gluten free)

INTRO: These lil’ fritters are special! They get a lot of their essence from lemongrass, one of the most important flavors of Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. Just the smell of these fritters cooking will attract attention from neighbors all around. When you make a Southeast Asian feast, be sure these are part of the menu.

Yields about 8 fritters

Ingredients
2/3 cup gluten-free cornmeal, plus 1⁄2 cup for coating
3 tablespoons rice flour
2 teaspoons non-aluminum baking powder
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon neutral tasting high-heat oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon tamari (wheat-free)
1 tablespoon chili paste (chili garlic paste or sweet chili paste)
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
1 ear corn, kernels sliced from cob, or 1/3 cup frozen corn kernels
1⁄2 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
1⁄4 cup water, more or less, as needed
2 tablespoons neutral tasting high-heat oil, for cooking

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine 2/3 cup cornmeal, rice flour and baking powder. Whisk until uniform.

Add maple syrup, oil, lime juice, tamari, chili paste, ginger and sea salt, and whisk.

Add corn, lemongrass and water to mixture. Amount of water needed will vary, depending on which brand of rice flour is used. Consistency should be fairly firm and mixture should hold together when scooped. Form mixture into 2-inch round patties.

Add additional cornmeal to a bowl and coat patties. Tap patties gently to remove excess cornmeal.

Heat a large sauté pan and add high-heat oil. Place patties in pan and cook over low-medium heat for about 3-5 minutes on each side, until golden.

Note: You can double the recipe when serving more than four.  For a printable version of this recipe click here.

The Sporkie Scoop

FOR YOUR SMARTS Lemongrass is native to Southeast Asia and has been consumed and used as medicine for thousands of years! Lemongrass is a general term for about 55 species of grasses. Some types are used in perfumes and cosmetics because of the clean, fresh smell.

FOR YOUR PARTS Lime juice contains a compound called limonene, which is a major cancer fighter! It can also boost your white blood cell activity. That’s some powerful citrus!

4 Comments

Filed under Appetizers, Books, Gluten Free, Guest Blog, Kid Friendly, Main Dish, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

GUEST BLOG – Be a Living Example by Mina Samuels

Be a Living Example
By Mina Samuels,
Author of Run Like A Girl: How Strong Women Make Happy Lives

Waking up, the grey morning was illuminated by the fresh fallen snow, sticky on the trees and grass. The thermometer said 40, but with the snowy rain, it felt colder as I ran through the near empty park to a workout. One of the few runners I passed was a man running with a baby jogger (kudos to him), equipped, of course, with a transparent plastic cover to protect baby from the elements.

It’s not that I never see women running with their babies in the inclement weather, but still. . . I have often heard variations on this theme — “It’s too cold (or wet, or windy, or or or) to take the baby out.” Thus does the woman deny herself the opportunity to run. Deny herself.

Too often, mothers feel selfish when they claim time for themselves, when they prioritize their workouts. Men. . . not so much. In conversation with two mothers earlier this week, they were bemoaning the fact that they had forfeited Sunday runs at the behest of their children. Their children had pressed their guilt button — something most clever kids know how to locate in an instant. Yes, of course, children are a priority. But let’s face it, for the vast majority of you who are reading this, your children are not suffering from neglect. Sure, weekend time with your family is important, but so are you, and so is your emotional, mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing. Giving yourself short shrift is counterproductive. Yes, your children have your attention, but is it undivided and patient, or is it yearning for the run you missed and impatient, because you need some time to yourself to clear your head and get the blood flowing?

But there’s an even more important reason to prioritize your own workout. How do children learn what’s important, how to behave and who to respect? — from adults, and more specifically from their parents. Mothers need to demonstrate by example that a woman may prioritize her own time, otherwise how will her daughter ever know she can? Mothers need to demonstrate that strong women are important and respected. The only way to truly do that, is by being a strong woman, who respects her own needs. And it’s not just daughters who are looking for examples of strong women in their lives; it’s sons, too. Mothers, you are raising boys who will ultimately treat women in the way that was modeled to them at home.

Not only should mothers claim time for themselves; they set a living example when they do, one that will resonate through the next generation. How excellent — getting your run (or bike or walk, or swim, or or or) is an important feminist statement.

Go for it — rain or shine!

© 2011 Mina Samuels, author of Run Like A Girl: How Strong Women Make Happy Lives

Author Bio
Mina Samuels
is a freelance writer and editor, and in a previous incarnation, a litigation lawyer and human rights advocate. In addition to many ghostwriting projects, her previous books include a novel, The Queen of Cups, and The Think Big Manifesto, coauthored with Michael Port. When she is not writing she might be off doing triathlons, marathons, biking, cross-country skiing, yoga, rock climbing, kayaking, snowshoeing, or hiking in far off places.

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Filed under Guest Blog, Vegan, Vegetarian

COOKING WITH SIRICA – Barbecued Portobello Sandwiches

Another great recipe post from Sirica…

Even before my husband and I went vegan we avoided certain animal products, pork being at the top of that list.   So one of the dishes that I truly have missed is a pulled pork sandwich with lots of creamy coleslaw and pickles. A couple of months ago I was craving BBQ so I started working on this recipe and after a few attempts, it is perfectly delish and vegan!

SANDWICH INGREDIENTS – Serves 2-3***
2 portobello mushrooms cleaned, stemmed and thinly sliced
½ white or yellow onion thinly sliced
1 Tbs. olive oil
½ – ¾ cup of your favorite BBQ sauce (I use Amy’s BBQ sauce, some chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and a little maple syrup)
2-3 sandwich buns Earth Balance butter spread

***Note: Since writing up this recipe, I have experimented with this dish and have added a handful of diced baby bela mushrooms (or crimini) to the mushroom onion mixture. Made a huge difference, much more meaty texture!

COLESLAW
3 cups green cabbage shredded
1 cup red cabbage shredded
½ cup carrot shredded
1 Tbs. red onion diced
1 Tbs. red bell pepper diced (optional)
½ cup veganaise
½ tsp. of Dijon mustard
1 tsp. lemon juice
1-2 Tbs. vinaigrette dressing (I like Girard’s light champagne dressing)
½ tsp. agave nectar or sweetener of choice (maple syrup would work also)
Salt & pepper to taste
 

Depending on your preference you can either remove the gills from the mushrooms or leave them. Stem and thinly slice mushrooms.

Thinly slice onion.

Sauté onion and mushrooms in olive oil on medium for 10 minutes till tender. Pour out any excess moisture/water from pan before adding BBQ sauce.

Add sauce and simmer for another 10-15 minutes until thick. Be careful to add the sauce slowly, you can always add more later.

While mushroom onion mixture is simmering, prepare coleslaw. Combine Vegenaise, mustard, lemon juice, vinaigrette and sweetener of choice, adjust according to your liking. Toss dressing with cabbage, carrot, onion and bell pepper.

Toast buns under broiler for a minute or two then top with Earth Balance butter spread.

Assemble sandwich on plate with a good serving of mushroom mixture on bun topped with coleslaw. Serve with more coleslaw on the side with a few pickle slices.

Enjoy!

For a printable version of this recipe click here.

7 Comments

Filed under Cooking With Sirica, Guest Blog, Kid Friendly, Main Dish, Recipes, Salad, Sides, Vegan, Vegetarian

GUEST BLOG – What’s Wrong With Oil by Sarah Taylor

I met Sarah Taylor at the Healthy Lifestyle Expo when we were introduced by a mutual friend.  Sarah is one busy vegan lady!  In 2002, she went vegan overnight after reading a copy of John Robbin’s book, Diet for a New America.  Four years later she wrote Vegan in 30 Days as a practical approach and step-by-step plan for helping others to become vegan (It has since been published around the world in several languages).

Sarah holds Certification in Plant Based Nutrition from Cornell University, and is currently working on her next vegan book, called Vegetarian to Vegan, which will be available next year. She is on faculty at the Nutritional Education Institute, and has worked as the Motivational Trainer for Joel Fuhrman, MD, author of Eat to Live.  Sarah has been interviewed for numerous radio and internet shows, including NPR, PBS and EarthSave Radio, among others.  She is an “Expert” blogger at VegSource and also runs her own weekly blog (click HERE).

After I went to the Healthy Lifestyle Expo I mentioned to you all that I was now convinced oil is not healthy.  Sarah does a fantastic job of explaining why in today’s Guest Blog post.  I sincerely hope you take the message to heart because doing so could prevent you from ever having to suffer a cardiac event.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH OIL

by Sarah Taylor

We have been taught that oil – especially olive and canola oils – are heart healthy.  They are good for us, and we should swap out butter and margarine and cook with these heart healthy oils instead.   However, I believe that nothing could be further from the truth.

The heart healthy rumor about oil came from the study that coined the “Mediterranean Diet”, The Lyon Diet Heart Study.  In this study, all 605 patients had survived one heart attack.  The patients in the treatment group were told to eat a “Mediterranean Diet,” high in fruits, vegetables, breads, beans, nuts, and seeds.  They were told to go light on dairy products, fish, poultry, meat, eggs, and wine.  They were also told to add in olive oil, for its monounsaturated fats.  The people in the control group were given no dietary advice, and ate a diet typical of most Westerners, particularly high in saturated fat.

The study had very good results:  The people on the Mediterranean diet were 50-70% less likely to experience any kind of cardiac ailments.  Since olive oil was specifically recommended in this study for it’s monounsaturated fat content, this is where the belief that olive oil is healthy originated.

But what we don’t hear about the Lyon Diet Heart Study is this little factoid:  Fully 25% of the people on the Mediterranean diet had either died or experienced a new cardiac event during the four-year study.  That’s one in four people on the Mediterranean diet!

Compare this to Caldwell Esselstyn’s diet, which is vegan with no oil or other fats included.  The patients in this study had suffered from an average of about three cardiac events before the study started.  Of all of his patients that fully adhered to his diet, there was not one further cardiac event in twelve years.

If you want further proof, here’s another compelling study:  A group of students’ arteries were tested after eating a 900-calorie breakfast, to see the effects of fat on the blood vessels’ ability to dilate and contract.  Our blood vessels need to be able to expand and contract to regulate blood flow to the organs that need it most.  Half of the students had a fat free breakfast of 900 calories, and the other half had a fatty breakfast of 900 calories.  After breakfast, the student’s arteries were tested to see how quickly their arteries could bounce back after being restricted for five minutes.  The arteries of the group that had no fat in their breakfast bounced right back after being constricted for five minutes; but the arteries of the group that had the fatty breakfast took up to six hours to regain their ability to dilate and contract normally.  All oil, my friends, is 100% fat.  Even olive oil.

Heart disease is not really a disease of the heart; it’s a disease of the blood vessels that occurs when blood (and the oxygen it carries) cannot get to the heart because the vessels are blocked up and compromised.  When a blood vessel to the heart gets clogged up and closes, then the heart does not receive any blood, and a heart attack occurs.  Our vessels are probably the most important part of our overall health, and fat undoubtedly has a negative effect on our vessels – even “healthy” oils, because they are still 100% fat.  Therefore, many doctors, including Caldwell Esselstyn, recommend no oil in the diet.

I’ll finish with my personal experience with Dr. Esselstyn.  After being vegan for 4 or 5 years, I stood up at a conference and asked Dr. Esselstyn this question:  If I am 100% vegan and therefore not ingesting any cholesterol, why does my cholesterol remain so high at 230 mg/dL?  He challenged me to get the oil out of my diet.  He said that “eating fat causes the body to manufacture excessive amounts of cholesterol,” even if those fats come from plants.  I honestly didn’t believe him, but agreed to his challenge anyway.  My cholesterol had never been below 200 mg/dL, even when I first had it tested at 19.

After just one month on his oil-free vegan diet my cholesterol fell to 151 mg/dL, and my LDL was so low that it was imperceptible on the cholesterol test!  When I added oil back in to my diet, my total cholesterol jumped right back up over 200 mg/dL again, and my LDL to 120 mg/dL.  For me, this is personal proof that really hits home:  Oil is not healthy!

For more information about Sarah’s company click HERE. 

Olive oil image courtesy of eHow.com 

7 Comments

Filed under Cholesterol, Education, Fat, Guest Blog, Heart Health, Vegan, Vegetarian

COOKING WITH SIRICA – Fideuà

Thanks to Facebook, my high school friend Sirica and I reconnected over our mutual passion for plant-based living.  For three years Sirica was my buddy in High School German.  She is THE reason I survived that class…so much so that when she graduated (she was one year ahead of me) I didn’t take German my Senior year.  Our teacher had his quirks for sure; using a book from 1960 (a German exchange student in the class informed us that, “No one speaks like this in Germany anymore”) and leaving the doors open EVERY day of the year (It actually gets pretty darn cold in Northern California), not to mention the fact that he was excruciatingly strict (despite my nerdy tendencies and every effort I could NEVER get above a B+ in that class!!!…apparently that still bothers me).  I actually look back at those memories and laugh.  Funny enough I know Herr Stride liked me…I think a large reason was the fact that we shared the same heritage in that we were both Norwegian and German.

I love having Sirica back in my life!

Sirica is a stay at home mom with two sweet boys, is a lover of food and wine, and has dreams of having a gourmet kitchen someday on an organic farm with a really cute farmer by her side…her hubby John.  She loves listening to music, reading her Bible, playing with their chocolate lab and being outside with her family.  She is passionately committed to sharing her joy of cooking with others and hopes to inspire them to enjoy the benefits of a plant based whole food lifestyle.  On the rare occasion that she gets time alone, you can find her curled up on the couch with a couple of cookbooks.

I am hopeful that this is the first of many Guest Blogs from Sirica on Veggie Grettie…I have already dreamed-up her regular Guest Blog title…get ready for “Cooking With Sirica.”

____________________________

The first time I saw this recipe in Vegetarian Times magazine, I passed on making it because we normally don’t eat soy-based fake meat, but after a second look I decided to give it a try and boy am I glad I did! It is one of the tastiest dishes we have ever made and a real treat to enjoy on special occasions. With all soy products, I recommend using organic and non-GMO. Don’t miss the garlic aioli, it is a fantastic compliment to the crispy texture of the baked topping.

Fideuà is a Spanish dish typically made with thin noodles instead of rice which is found in another popular Spanish dish, Paella. And since I love paella, I knew this would be a hit with my family. Below you will find the original recipe from Vegetarian Times along with my changes.

INGREDIENTS – Serves 8
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 8 oz. angel hair pasta, broken into 2-inch lengths (2 cups)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cups sliced wild mushroom mix (such as cremini, button or oyster mushrooms)
  • 1/2 8-oz. pkg. soy chorizo chopped (1/2 sausage)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika (optional)
  • 1 8-oz. can sodium-free tomato sauce (I used TJ’s Tomato Basil Marinara)
  • 2 cups mushroom broth or low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 8 oz. fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
     

PREP INGREDIENTS

Heat 1 Tbs. oil in wok, paella pan, or large skillet over medium heat. Add pasta, and cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly browned and opaque, stirring constantly. Transfer pasta to paper-towel-lined plate to drain.


Add remaining 1 Tbs. oil to pan, and heat over medium heat. Add onion, and cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until soft.

Stir in mushrooms, soy chorizo, bell pepper, 2 Tbs. parsley, garlic, and smoked paprika (if using), and cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Stir in tomato sauce.

Add pasta, broth, and 1/2 cup water (I used rice milk instead to add a little creaminess), and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add asparagus, and cover; simmer 3 minutes (I added the asparagus after simmering for 20 minutes to really thicken up the sauce and because I used gluten free pasta which takes a little longer to cook).

Preheat oven to broil. If using wok or skillet, transfer pasta mixture to 10-inch or larger round cake pan. Place paella pan or cake pan under broiler, and broil 3 to 4 minutes, or just until pasta is crisp on top. Watch carefully—it burns quickly.

To serve, top with garlic aioli (recipe below) and sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbs. parsley.

Garlic Aioli

  • 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise (I like veganaise)
  • 3 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice

Enjoy with a nice glass of wine!

For a printable version of this recipe click here.

First Fideua picture courtesy of Vegetarian Times Magazine

Remaining pictures courtesy of Sirica

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Filed under Cooking With Sirica, Guest Blog, Main Dish, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

CREAMY PUMPKIN PIE ICE CREAM – Vegan and GFree

My recent trip to Hugo’s for vegan soft serve ice cream (click here to read the post) inspired me to try and create some vegan ice cream of my own with Japanese sweet potatoes as the base.  I am in the midst of pumpkin fever and wanted make some pumpkin flavored vegan ice cream that was health conscious along with being truly creamy and decadent.

This was so easy to make and the results were so good that I can’t wait to make more and more flavors.  I am dying to make a chocolate version, but my son is requesting peanut butter and since I am a big fan of anything PB, I am sure I will go that route next… I am happy to score some points wherever I can!

INGREDIENTS
3 cups cooked (fresh) Japanese sweet potato, peeled
1 cup So Delicious Original Creamer
1 cup canned organic pumpkin
¼ cup yakon syrup
3-4Tbs. Somersweet*** or Stevia to taste
1 vanilla bean (or alcohol-free vanilla extract to taste)
1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
 
***Somersweet no longer contains Acesulfame K.  It’s ingredients are Inulin, Erythritol, Fructose, and citrus peel extract
 
~

To cook the Japanese sweet potato steam them until softened (mine took 30 minutes) and then bake them at 400-425 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes.  I learned this technique from my Chinese in-laws and it makes sweet potatoes and yams sooooo sweet and creamy.  It is my experience that when a sweet potato or yam in only steamed they have a slightly watery texture.  Baking the sweet potatoes after steaming them makes them creamy every time.

Place all of the ingredients into your high speed blender and blend until very smooth.  I blended mine long enough that the mixture was warm.  Although I have not tried it, I am sure it would work ok in a food processor as well (make sure you periodically scrape down the sides).

Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.  You may decide to cool the mixture in the fridge first; I poured it straight in to my ice cream maker.

***A little side note…sometimes taking photographs by yourself can get messy.  Notice anything funny about the pic above???  My depth perception was messed-up since I was looking through the camera and I ended-up pouring some of the ice cream mixture onto the counter, down the cabinet, and onto my feet.  After cleaning up, I took the picture below and actually made it into the ice cream bucket.  Sheesh!!!

If you have any of the ice cream left and freeze it, make sure you take it out of the freezer 15 minutes before serving so it can soften a bit.

For a printable version of this recipe click here.

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Filed under Dessert, Frozen Treats, Guest Blog, Ice Cream, Kid Friendly, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

GUEST BLOG – Crunchy and Healthy Jalapeno Poppers by Veg Obsession

Another blog that I frequent is Veg Obsession.  Isobelle created the site as a means to share the delicious vegan recipes she makes with her friends and family.  Through Veg Obsession Isobelle wants to show people that delicious, mindful, and compassionate eating is easy to achieve.  One of the main reasons Isobelle is vegan is for her daughter and her future…it is clear that she is a very committed mommy!

While cruising through Isobelle’s site I came across her recipe for Crunchy and Healthy Jalapeno Poppers.  I contacted her and she has graciously agreed to share the recipe on Veggie Grettie.  Traditionally jalapeno poppers are laden since they are loaded with cheese and fried.  Isobelle fixed that problem by filling the jalapenos with hummus and baking them.

Enjoy this healthy variation!

My husband and I love spicy!  We have a jalapeno plant in the back yard that has been producing plenty of peppers.  And, of course, all of them are used.  I used to make jalapeno poppers with Toffuti “cream cheese” (which are a lot healthier than the traditional fried poppers with the greasy/fatty real cheese).  But, my husband suggested trying to make it even healthier.  So, he gave me the idea of hummus in the jalapeno, and I am so glad he did, because this is wonderful and delicious!

*Jalapeno peppers are very good for you.  It helps cure headaches, congestion, and it even helps fight off cancer!

*Garbanzo beans are also super healthy!

Ingredients:

Directions:

Slice the top off the jalapenos, cut them in half (lengthwise), remove seeds and placenta.

Note: if you like REALLY spicy poppers, you can add the seeds and jalapeno placenta to your hummus.

Spoon hummus into jalapenos.

Dip the jalapeno in the unsweetened nut milk (almond milk).  Then, roll the jalapeno into the whole wheat (or gluten free) flour.  Dip it into the nut milk again.  Then, roll into the panko bread crumbs.  Place onto a slightly greased cookie sheet and spray a little bit of olive oil onto the poppers (just a little bit!).

Bake for 25 minutes and then enjoy!

For a printable version of this recipe click here.

3 Comments

Filed under Appetizers, Guest Blog, Recipes, Sides, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

GUEST BLOG – Ultimate Energy Bar Formula – The No Meat Athlete

I have been following Matt Frazier’s blog, the No Meat Athlete for some time now.  Matt is a running fanatic who is fueled exclusively by plants, thus the title, No Meat Athlete.  Matt ran his first marathon on 2002, but it wasn’t until he became a vegetarian that he qualified for the Boston Marathon.  He has since moved on to ultrarunning…we are talking 50K, 50 miles, and beyond (all fueled by a plant-based diet)!!!  If that is not inspirational, then I don’t know what is. Matt has great tips on his site for running and athletics in general as well as product reviews and recipes (He also sells really cute shirts).  Today Matt has graciously agreed to share his go to formula for energy bars.  We have all bought them, but did any of you realize how easy (and how much less expensive) they are to make at home?  Matt’s sister-in-law came-up with the winning formula.  What’s great about using a formula versus a recipe is how easy it is to customize it to each person’s taste…some people would go gaga for a chocolate peanut butter energy bar and other people would prefer a cranberry walnut bar…to each their own. Today’s Guest Blog will not disappoint.

The Ultimate Energy Bar Formula

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1-pound can of beans, drained and rinsed (or 1.5 cups cooked beans)
  • ½ cup binder
  • ¼ cup sweetener
  • ¼ cup soft sweet fruit
  • 1 teaspoon of extract (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of dry spice (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1.5 cups of oats (you can toast them if you want but I can’t tell the difference)
  • 1 cup dry base ingredient
  • 1 cup stir-ins

In a food processor, combine beans, binder, sweetener, soft fruit, extract, spice, and salt until smooth.  Add the oats and dry base ingredients and pulse just to combine.  Add stir-ins and pulse again just to combine.  If the consistency seems spreadable, you’re good.  If it’s too dry, add 1/4 cup of water; if it’s too runny, add an additional 1/4 cup of the dry base ingredient. Grease 13×9 pan with baking spray or rub with 1 tablespoon oil, then spread mixture into pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes. Note: You’ll have the most success if you use unsalted, unsweetened versions of the ingredients, and control the sweetness and saltiness through the sweetener and added salt.

Recommended beans

  • White beans
  • Black beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Adzuki beans

Recommended binders

  • Almond butter
  • Peanut butter
  • ¼ cup of ground flax seed mixed with ¼ cup water
  • Pureed pumpkin
  • Mashed avocado

Recommended sweeteners

  • Maple syrup
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Agave nectar
  • Honey (if you’re not vegan)

Recommended soft, sweet fruit

  • Applesauce
  • Mashed banana (about half of one)
  • Chopped dates (remove the pits!)
  • Crushed pineapple

Recommended optional extracts

  • Vanilla
  • Almond
  • Lemon
  • Coconut
  • Coffee

Recommended dry spices

  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Nutmeg
  • Cardamom
  •  Instant coffee

*For stronger spices like nutmeg and cardamom, use just a ¼-½ teaspoon and combine with less intense spices like cinnamon. Recommended dry base ingredient (a combination is usually best)

  • Protein powder (we’re fans of hemp, rice, and pea protein)
  • Brown rice flour
  • Spelt flour
  • Cocoa (max ½ cup)
  • Whole-wheat flour
  • Buckwheat flour

Recommended stir-ins

  • Shredded coconut
  • Dried cranberries
  • Raisins
  • Dried apricots
  • Chopped nuts
  • Cacao nibs
  • Dry cereal
  • Crushed pretzels
  • Chocolate chips

So that’s the basic formula! To help get you started, here are three variations Christine came up with.  For each of them, follow the same procedure from above for mixing and baking.

Example #1: chocolate black bean happy bars

  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed (about 1.5 cups)
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • ¼ cup agave
  • ¼ cup mashed banana
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cups of oats
  • 1/2 cup cocoa + ½ cup brown rice flour
  • ½ cup shredded coconut + ½ cup raisins

Example #2: cranberry-pistachio protein bars

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup binder: ¼ cup of ground flax seed with ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup agave nectar
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cups of oats
  • 1 cup vanilla protein powder
  • ½ cup pistachios + ½ cup dried cranberries

Example #3: maple pumpkin health bars

  • 1 can of great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup pureed pumpkin
  • ½ cup maple syrup (Christine used more maple syrup in place of the sweet fruit here, for more maple flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cups of oats
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1 cup raisin bran cereal

So there you go, three examples to get you started.  But really, the point is for you to create your own, using the basic formula as the framework.  So I hope you’ll do that, and let us know what you come up with! Photo courtesy of the No Meat Athlete. Click here to read the original post.

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Filed under Beans/Legumes, Breakfast, Dessert, Energy Bars, Gluten Free, Guest Blog, Kid Friendly, Nuts, Quick, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

GUEST BLOG – Natural Skincare by Juliette Samuel

Today’s Guest Blog is by Juliette Samuel of  NYRAJU Skin Care.  Juliette is a person who definitely knows beautiful when she sees it.  Juliette has had a very eclectic career working in and around the beauty industry.  She has worked as an instructor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.  She has also been a Professional Image Consultant.

Currently Juliette works as a Skin Care Therapist, acting President and Chief Nose for NYRAJU Skin Care.  As such she is in charge of product formulation and development for all of the skin and hair care products  produced for the line.

Juliette is also a member of NAHA-The National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy, The Society of Cosmetic Chemist and is the Fragrance Editor for BellaOnline.  What does that do for you?  It keeps Juliette on her toes when it comes to the type of information that she’ll be able to share with you as readers of her blog or articles that she publishes on and off the web.

Beautiful Skin Using Natures Special Gifts

Beautiful skin has always come from within.  There is no beauty without healthy looking skin.  You are what you eat, this holds true for skin health and weight loss.  Nutrition plays an important role in the success of both.

Sooo … as we venture into your kitchen, I have one question for you …

What do honey, avocado, blueberries, cucumbers and strawberries have in common?

Aside from tasting good, they provide great antioxidants and moisturizers for your beautiful skin. And they make wonderful skin care treatments.

But so do shea butter, cocoa butter and mango butter.  Let’s not forget olive oil, jojoba oil and grape seed oil.  While we’re at it sea salt, turbinado sugar and a few essential oils will add a little seasoning to the group.  Now if you blend them together, not all in one product, you’ll get some sultry, sensual, luxurious skin and body care treatments, not to mention skin that’s soft as a baby’s bottom.

When you think of natural skin care products, you don’t always have to venture outside your home.  The great thing about these ingredients is that they are either in your pantry and bathroom or you can find them at your local health food store.

As annoying as bee’s can be, they provide you with a great product that’s considered great for you internally and externally.  Here are samples of what honey can do for your skin.

Basic Honey Masque

Honey is a great hydrator when applied to you skin.  If you put about a tablespoon of honey on your face and neck for 10 minutes it will leave your skin feeling soft and supple after you remove it with warm water and pat it dry.

Honey Masque for Oily Skin

When paring honey with oatmeal it makes a great masque for oily skin.  If you mix honey and oatmeal into a paste and apply it to your skin for 15 minutes, the oatmeal will absorb the oil from your skin, without stripping it of its natural essence.

Remove the masque with warm water and pat dry.

Avocado Honey Masque for Dry Skin

1 large Avocado
1 Tablespoon of Honey

You already know that honey is a great hydrator but when coupled with an avocado, it will provide your skin with a rich skin product that will add moisture to your skin as well.

Peel and slice your avocado.  Put it in your blender and puree with honey.  Gently apply the masque to your face and continue until your masque feels extremely tacky to the touch.  Relax and leave on for 5-10 minutes.  Rinse with warm water and pat dry.

If you’re looking for a blissful spa experience for your beautiful skin, try blending your own body butter scrub:

2 tablespoons of sea salt
1 tablespoon of turbinado sugar
1/2 cup of shea butter
1/2 teaspoon of jojoba wax beads
1 teaspoon of jojoba oil
2-5 drops of essential oil (optional )

Place all of the ingredients into a glass bowl and stir.  This is not a butter per se, but you would apply it as if it’s a butter.  Put your blended treat into a glass or cosmetic grade plastic container that has a secure top. You’ll want to keep it in a cool dry place, your refrigerator is perfect for summer months.  The shea butter will melt especially if you’ve used raw shea butter.

The best place to give yourself this treatment is in your bathtub.  Standing in your tub, apply your blend from shoulders to feet, then run a warm tub of water.  While your water is running you will place your well massaged body into the water and enjoy it’s tranquility for 10-15 minutes.  Pop the drain or pull the plug and as the water is taking all of your dead skin cells that you’ve sloughed away, rinse off any excess product or cells and pat your skin dry. Your skin should now feel luxurious to the touch.

Now that you’ve taken care of your skin, one last treat is in order.  It’s smoothie time!  Strawberries, blueberries, banana’s …Oh My!

Yes, it’s that simple, toss some strawberries, blueberries, a banana and almond milk into the blender and you’ve got a delicious tasting smoothie. Time for you to be creative, Enjoy

Beautiful skin?  Absolutely!

honey image courtesy of healthmad.com

avocado and honey image courtesy of handmadespark.com

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Filed under Education, Guest Blog, Recipes, Skincare, Skincare Mask, Vegan, Vegetarian